My name is Pam Brown. I’ve lived in Washington most of my life, and have struggled with disabilities that prevent me from working. I rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to cover all my daily living expenses. On $733 per month, there is no money to cushion you in an emergency. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way.
About four years ago, I lost my apartment. I had nowhere to go, so I bought a car with an auto loan and the little I could contribute to a down payment. Although I’m still paying on that auto loan every month, it’s worth it because my car the closest thing I have to a roof over my head. After car payments, gas, car repairs, and food, I have almost nothing left at the end of the month to save towards an apartment.
Even small financial emergencies cause a lot of stress and uncertainty in my life. I have a diabetes insipidus, a chronic medical condition for which I need to drink water and access a bathroom at all times. I can’t take the bus to my appointments because I can’t be away from a bathroom that long. My car’s brakes and transmission are giving out, but major car repairs like that would be financially impossible for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the car stops working.
If SSI paid something closer to a livable income, I would be able to repair my car to tide me over in the short-term, and eventually save up enough to move into an apartment. I’m not the only person I know who is homeless despite receiving SSI. This income is supposed to ensure that people with disabilities are cared for. It’s not right that I should experience this much struggle just to stay off the streets.